Crab curry and noolputtu - two dishes I haven't made in a while. When I returned from India after my sister's wedding I bought myself a noolputtu (stringhopper) machine.. But like everything else in my kitchen, it was starting to catch dust, until I joined a foodie group. It's been only couple of weeks since the group and I've already learnt so much about my favourite Kerala cuisine. No matter how many pizzas I eat or coucous I dream of, like everyone else, I go back to my childhood memories and recipes when I want something simple and comforting. And being in this group has paved way to many recipes and ingredients that I had completely forgotten about.
For lunch today, I made 'Mambazha Pulisseri', a simple Keralite ripe mango curry that brought me to tears thinking about my childhood and extended family back in India. Happy tears, ofcourse. I wouldn't have made the dish, if it wasn't for my foodie buddies. I'am looking forward to more inspiration and more recipes. For now let me share two recipes that I learnt through the same group.
I think calling this dish 'crab curry' is a little disrespectful as this is more than just a curry. This is a gateway to seafood heaven from where you wouldn't want to come back. No, seriously! But to keep it simple and to get many to try this 'oh so good' recipe, I'am going to go with a simple name. You can thank me later for deceiving you into adding another awesome recipe to your repertoire.
Fresh crabs, cleaned and cut into bite medium sized chunks - 500gm
Group A - For Dry Roasting
1/2 coconut, freshly grated
8-10 shallots or button onions
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1" piece ginger
5 garlic pods (If using Indian garlic, take 10)
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp chilli powder (feel free to adjust according to your taste)
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp black peppercorns - slightly crushed.
Group B - For Curry
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
2-3 Green chillies, sliced
Few Curry leaves
1tbsp tamarind paste or some tamarind water
Dry roast all ingredients in Group A and grind them with some water and keep aside. You can blend them in your mixer too.
In a clay pot (if you have one) or in a deep bottomed pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add onions, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, green chillies and saute.
Add crabs and stir a bit.
Add tamarind paste / tarmarind water. Incase you are adding paste, you might have to add some plain water to get some gravy. It's up to you.
When the mixture boils, add the ground paste.
Let everything cook. Taste and see whether anything is missing and add accordingly.
In the end, splash a bit of coconut oil and add some curry leaves.
You may wonder why I had to wait until a foodie group to come along to make noolputtu. After all it's a very common dish back home. This was just one of those things that was always in the back of my mind that I never got around. And whenever I craved for noolputtu, I would simply get a pack of Annapoorna Noolputtu from the nearby supermarket. Yes, feel free to hit me!
Noolputtu and crab curry may sound an odd combination. But it works. I personally feel noolputtu works with anything - plain sugar and tea, black chikpea (kadala) curry, lamb stew, vegetable stew, chicken curry.. and the list goes on...
2cup rice flour
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp coconut milk powder (optional)
a good pinch of salt
Fresh grated coconut
Mix all the ingredients, except coconut, until you get a not dry, not sticky dough. The consistency of the dough takes some practice to perfect and I'am simply not good at explaining it in words.
Line your steamer with tin foil. Banana leaves are used back in Kerala but they are not easily available here.
Feed the machine with some dough and rotate to get noolputtu. Do this on top of the foil.
Top with some fresh coconut.
Steam until cooked - about fifteen to twenty minutes.
Couple of pointers
The machine you have maybe different - I recently saw a Sri Lankan version which is very much different from the one shown here - but the end result is the same. Lookwise atleast. I haven't tasted Sri Lankan stringhoppers as yet.
What the size of noolputtu should be depends on your personal taste. I like them small and cute.
I've been making noolputtu a lot lately. In the picture below, it's with chemmeen curry (shrimp curry). Yummo!
I hope you will try both the recipes soon and come back with some comments or pointers.
Until then, cook, eat and enjoy!